I’m in love with a new dish. It came to me unceremoniously, written in hand, on a scrap of paper. It was very nondescript and so therefore I tucked it into a “safe” place for another day. The other day arrived, a couple of weeks ago, two years later.
I was leafing through the “Pork” recipe folder and there it was. The time had come. I prepared it and then baked it for HOURS! While it was baking the house filled with a smell that could lure the dead out of their graves. I was positively slobbering every time I lovingly stirred it. By the time dinner came and we pulled this masterpiece out of the oven, we literally could not wait another second to eat this dish.
Once on our plates and in our mouths, we were not disappointed. Way far from it, the flavors exploded on our taste buds and set us into a fit of moans. Now I knew why Johnny Depp was killing people over it in the movie, “Once upon a time in Mexico.” It is that good. I should of suspected it, the friend that had slipped me the recipe is a marvelous cook and she would not give me something that was less than fabulous. The only question was why oh why had I waited so long to make it??
But, in my defense I have been making up for lost time and have made this recipe three times since, twice with pork and once with a beef roast. It is all fantastic. Do yourself a giant favor and make this now. Not later…now.
The dish, Puerco Pibil, is a slow roasted pork dish that hails from the Yucatan peninsula. Traditionally this pork dish was done in a pit wrapped in banana leaves. Yeah, not going to happen in the rainy Northwest but crock pots seems to work fine. In fact that is one of the great things about this dish is that it is slow roasting so is perfect to toss in the crock pot for a busy day.
One of the spices I added is smoked paprika which is my very favorite spice these days. Now, if you have never had smoked paprika, prepare to be taken over. It seems to wind up in everything, unbeknownst to me. My hand just seems to grab that tin with the cute little dahlias on it and make red sprinkles on everything. (In fact, I have a fantastic spice rub featuring smoked paprika coming soon for grill season.)
Annatto seeds are a traditional spice from the Yucatan (which you can get from Penzeys), BUT there is no way in god’s little green acres to grind these suckers up unless you have an industrial tool. I suggest buying the seeds already ground and called “achiote molido” available at Latin grocery stores or online. But I found you can make it with chili powder and it seemed to turn out just fine. (I’m sure the traditionalist would groan over that!) El Pato enchilada sauce is an amazing sauce that has only wholesome ingredients in it.
3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
5 Tablespoons of achiote molido
OR 2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of allspice
½ teaspoon of cloves
The rest of the ingredients
A 5 pound pork butt cut into 2 inch squares
¼ cup of orange juice
¼ cup of lime juice
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes, no salt
1 28 oz can of El Pato red enchilada sauce
1-2 chipotle chilies minced fine
Splash of tequila
First off, mix the spices together in a small bowl then turn on the oven to 325 degrees or your crockpot on low. Add the pork butt to your pot of choice, either the crock pot or an oven sturdy casserole dish. In a big bowl, mix all the other ingredients together with the spices, then pour over the meat.
Cover tightly and bake for 4 hours in the oven stirring when you can’t stand it anymore. (a few times) Or slow cook in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Enjoy this luscious paleo dish over mashed sweet potatoes and a few avocado slices if you like or on it’s own with a lively salad on the side. (For the pictures I added 2 cut up sweet potatoes to the Puerco pibil the last ½ hour it baked).